eNCA intern, UJ Security

An open letter to all South Africans: Our progress has only been skin deep

I’d like to start by recognising the contribution our youth in South Africa have made in all areas of our country. From fighting fascism to asserting themselves as nation builders through continued change; by having the courage and WILL to run the gauntlet of life and to aspire to the greatness in either form for which their parents and grandparents fought so hard for.

eNCA intern, UJ Security

It does, however, pain me to see that progress has only been skin deep, and I say this on the following basis.

The massacre of 500 kids on June 16th, 1976 may just as well have been happening right now, a tragedy which shook the foundations of the apartheid Bantu education system, but more so the mothers, fathers, sisters AND brothers of those killed in cold blood by a tyrannical, corrupt and fascist government.
We see today a youth who emulate their hero’s, whose only discourse has been the defiance of an oppressive language and minority affiliation, and the violence and protest in either our educated or uneducated class simply reflecting the degree of powerlessness.

Short of being the best student throughout my education, I’ve come to the realisation that their anger and frustration has still not been heard, that we pander too it from the other side, quiet patronisingly pointing out the failures and evaluation of their choices in life, by the unerring ignorance displayed in the post-apartheid society of ignoring it until a law is broken to break silence, WELL KNOWING that there is no argument to counter their concerns or injustices which they still experience.

We excuse ourselves through the incompetence of the government, we refuse to believe that 20 years is simply not enough, we recognise that the system is broken yet we sit on the sidelines with the same false hope as our youth thinking it will get better, or wait for it to burn before we say “we told you so.”

It saddens me to hear we need to invest in our future, a future where the rich get richer, the political class veer’s from activism to career politics, where complacency to act on our moral responsibility remains in the hands of those who seek immediate recognition, where examples of making a difference are taking a picture of yourself giving to charity and absolving yourself from the true responsibility you have, an undeniable responsibility to invest what you have received back into the country.

We bath in righteous acts of good corporate governance, giving millions to charities to maintain a community affiliation, we have in all sense of the word become a #tag army, presenting our views but forgetting the very act of mentorship and citizenship, the very thing that our youth need more than all the money in the world, the comfort of reassurance, not the cold breath of criticism, the enduring flame of liberty, not the ashes of idealism, the acceptance of different views, not to view the world with indifference,  the recognition that progress can only take place when we lead by example, not silence the examples of leadership, to inspire each other to become better than yesterday, not to become yesterday’s inspiration,  but most of all to realise that “What you help a child to love can be more important than what you help him to learn.”

We need to teach our children and our youth to love themselves as they are, that we accept them as they are and that we will support and guide them within their capacity to better understand the world around them and thus make a positive impact in our world, even in challenging times.

So the message to the youth of South Africa on this important day, a day dedicated to you through the trials and tribulations of many before you through their own sacrifice, your responsibility is towards your own future, for it is the years you have ahead of you that you need to guard with every ounce of your being, it’s your collateral, yet spends itself without your permission.

Your future is now, and you have it within you to make a difference, you have the ability to affect change whether on an individual level or as part of a movement, your commitment to continue educating and liberate yourself, your responsibility to unshackle yourself from the past, to forge a future for your fellow youth with your fellow youth, your responsibility to commit yourself to such pursuits which may allow you to look back at life and say “I Lived” I didn’t just exist but I lived and made my mark, a mark which may endure the test of time.

You carry the beacon of progress, innovation, and continued liberation with the free thinking majority of this beautiful country. You have the power to remove tyranny, you have the power to demand better for yourself and your loved ones, you have the ultimate freedom to take your fellow youths hand and say you own your future.

So I dedicate a Poem;

The poem is written in the spirit of progress, to reflect on one of the last remaining beacons of injustice.
The 500

When hearts as cold as bullets enforce their tyranny and fear
When the nation endured a winter, the oppressor forced a tear
We shall not fear, we shall not deviate, we shall not until you alleviate
A non-culture, like bacteria forced on a nation, it even had a name yes! apartheid
So in every story, easily forgotten, washed over by righteous censorship
We look back at Hector, Hastings, Tebago and the many who followed
To endure yet more of the same, a bitter pill was not to be swallowed
So I’m white, the European, an unapologetic not so God fearing Christian
It took me 33 years to see the utter magnificence of colour and not the fiction
You see the question I ask is this, what the Afrikaans language ever did for us?
Other than associate us, define us, govern us, put fear in us, and disrespect us
So here is the thing, ironically we begin, to hide from the masses, knowing its falsity
Knowing that it stood for nothing but a closed minded, dictatorship, a complete Fallacy
A language of hate, a beacon of divide, no wonder the establishment uses it as bait
But beware if you challenged the constructs of the chalice, the orange white and blue
The next generation must feel the connection, told it’s a fair and proper reflection
4 primary colours, often mixed, a little here and a lot there, depends on your version
So “where” are we today, you go on your knees and pray, to preserve the dignity of people
So “here” we are today, to attempt to build a life, but ever higher they set the steeple
Whilst the ignorant rely on protectionism, veiled in economic growth and political perfectionism
You must ASK the question, how many more should die as they defy this minority fascism

Nick Malherbe